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Defining Your Priorities for the Holidays

The following post is from Bernice Wood of Living the Balanced Life:

advent calendar boxes
source: Ali Edwards

As we head full swing into the holiday season, with all its hustle and bustle, it is easy to get caught up and lost in our list of things to do, our events and activities to go to. We may get so busy just going, that we don’t even realize that we are not enjoying ourselves.

In America, especially, there is huge cultural pressure to do so much. I mean, this is the Land of Opportunity! We have so many things available to us, and wouldn’t it be a shame not to take advantage of all of them? And if you live in or near a large metropolitan area (we live outside Atlanta) the opportunities are multiplied!

How can you make sure you are doing the things that are important to you and your family?

Stick your head in the sand

There are a couple of ways to approach this. One way, the head-in-the-sand method, is to not read about all the great things in your town going on.

If this is your preferred method, you shouldn’t:

  • watch local TV
  • read the newspaper
  • surf local websites
  • look at your church bulletin or website
  • read your child’s school newsletter
  • listen to local radio

By not doing these things, you won’t see all the great stuff you are missing out on! And you won’t feel guilty for not doing them!

Okay, so I know that for the most part, the above method is not the best! And it probably would be very hard to implement since we are an information driven society.

So, what’s a family to do?

First of all, have a discussion with your family. Husband and wife first, and then depending on the ages of your children, include them in the conversation. Depending on your family dynamic, expand the conversation to your extended family.

Ask these questions:

  • What 2 or 3 things about Christmas do you love the most?
  • What traditions, that you already have in place, do you treasure?
  • Are there things that you have been doing that really aren’t important or enjoyable?
  • Are there some activities that no one even knows why you’re doing them?

For instance, we made a decision a long time ago to use disposable dishes, cutlery and cups when we have a family holiday gathering. These keep you from having to worry with the table being set just right, plus clean up is a snap! More time to be with family, less time cleaning up.

My extended family used to entail about 40 people. We realized that we have still been cooking for that many people! I talked my family into reducing the number of side dishes and desserts we bring. I mean really, how many different ways can you fix green beans?

I don’t know about you, but I gave up Christmas cards a long time ago. I used to buy them and then feel guilty every year for not getting them out. So I gave myself permission not to do them. Guilt averted!

As far as community activities go, look at what organizations you are already involved in and determine if the holiday activities they are sponsoring are something you want to go to.

Your goals for your family

Keep in mind your overall goals for your family. What things are important to you?

Do you want to build stronger relationships in your kids’ schools or clubs? Then it may be the right thing for you to attend their Christmas parties.

Do you want to teach your children about giving back? You can scan your community info for opportunities to do so. One great way to show your children about giving is Operation Christmas Child. Putting together a shoebox gift your kids in other countries, it is awesome! Can you serve in a homeless shelter? Ask around for other ways you can help.

If culture is important to you, look up opportunities to see a Christmas cantata, or attend a local community theater production of Christmas Carol.

Find those things that matter most to you and yours, and then incorporate them in to your life. In fact, this is good to remember year-round! Knowing what is important to you and what you want to say “Yes” to, makes it much easier to say “No!” to those that don’t fit in your life. Once you make this assessment, live by it and don’t feel guilty or pressured into doing something else.

They say that the good can become the enemy of the best. If you are so busy trying to do all the “good” things out there, you won’t have the time or energy to enjoy the best!

How does your family prioritize your activities during the holiday season?

Bernice Wood is a mother of 4 young adult kids, plus Nana to 7 grandchildren. After a major lifechange summer 2010, she began blogging to journal her personal struggles and transition. To help others avoid the pitfalls of stress and burnout and learn to live a more healthy life, she recently launched her new blog at Living the Balanced Life.

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